Avoid the Top 10 CV Mistakes
It's deceptively easy to make mistakes on your CV and exceptionally difficult to repair the damage once an employer gets it. So
prevention is critical, especially if you've never written one before. Here are the most common pitfalls and how you can avoid them.
1. Typos and Grammatical Errors
Your CV needs to be grammatically perfect. If it isn't, employers
will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions
about you, like: "This person can't write," or "This
person obviously doesn't care."
2. Lack of Specifics
Employers need to understand what you've done and accomplished.
- Worked with employees in a restaurant setting.
- Recruited, hired, trained and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant
with £2 million in annual sales.
Both of these phrases could describe the same person, but clearly the
second one's details and specifics will more likely grab an
3. Attempting One Size Fits All
Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all CV to send to all
employers, you almost always end up with something employers will
toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a CV
specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why
you fit the position in a specific organisation.
4. Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments
It's easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job
duties on your resume. For example:
- Attended group meetings and recorded minutes.
- Worked with children in a day-care setting.
- Updated departmental files.
however, don't care so much about what you've done as what you've
accomplished in your various activities. They're looking for
statements more like these:
5. Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short
Used laptop computer to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them
in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organisational reference.
three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them
for a 10-minute holiday program performance.
10 years' worth of unwieldy files, making them easily accessible to
Despite what you may read or hear, there are no real rules
governing the length of your CV. Why? Because human beings, who have
different preferences and expectations where resumes are concerned,
will be reading it.
That doesn't mean you should start sending
out five-page CVs, of course. Generally speaking, you usually need to
limit yourself to a maximum of two pages. But don't feel you have to
use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don't cut the meat out of
your resume simply to make it conform to an arbitrary one-page
6. A Bad Objective
Employers do read your CV’s objective statement, but too
often they plough through vague pufferies like, "Seeking a
challenging position that offers professional growth." Give
employers something specific and, more importantly, something that
focuses on their needs as well as your own. Example: "A
challenging entry-level marketing position that allows me to
contribute my skills and experience in fund-raising for nonprofits."
7. No Action Verbs
Avoid using phrases like "responsible for." Instead,
use action verbs: "Resolved user questions as part of an IT help
desk serving 4,000 students and staff."
8. Leaving Off Important Information
You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs
you've taken to earn extra money for school. Typically, however, the
soft skills you've gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic,
time management) are more important to employers than you might
9. Visually Too Busy
If your CV is wall-to-wall text featuring five different fonts,
it will most likely give the employer a headache. So show your CV to
several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually
attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise.
10. Incorrect Contact Information
I once worked with a student whose CV seemed incredibly strong,
but he wasn't getting any bites from employers. So one day, I
jokingly asked him if the phone number he'd listed on his CV was
correct. It wasn't. Once he changed it, he started getting the calls
he'd been expecting. Moral of the story: Double-check even the most
minute, taken-for-granted details -- sooner rather than later.